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Kullervo

Sibelius , Robert Spano , Hellekant , Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus , Gunn , Nathan Gunn , Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Men's Chorus , Charlotte Hellekant , Norman Mackenzie Audio CD
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Price: $11.43 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Details
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MP3 Music, 7 Songs, 2006 $9.49  
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Biography

Paavo Järvi’s outstanding reputation makes him one of the most sought-after conductors on the international stage. Born in Tallinn, Estonia, he studied percussion and conducting at the Tallinn School of Music before moving to the USA in 1980, where he continued his studies at the Curtis Institute of Music and at the Los Angeles Philharmonic Institute with Leonard Bernstein.

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Product Details

  • Performer: Sibelius, Robert Spano, Hellekant, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra & Chorus, Gunn, et al.
  • Audio CD (November 21, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Telarc
  • ASIN: B000JCETY2
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,509 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Introduction
2. Kullervo's Youth
3. Kullervo and His Sister
4. Kullervo Goes to Battle
5. Kullervo's Death

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Sibelius (1865-1957) wrote Kullervo, his first large-scale orchestral composition, at the age of 25. As this recording's conductor, Robert Spano, says, it bears within it the seeds of all his later symphonies. The text is taken from the Finnish national epic Kalevala, a collection of orally transmitted ancient legends assembled and published by Elias Lönnrot in 1835. Sibelius loved the Kalevala, which inspired several of his symphonic poems. Its uniform eight-syllable lines and ritualistically repeated phrases sounded to him like "pure music," hinting at the "treasures...hidden in our folk songs," and before writing Kullervo he immersed himself in studying their rugged meters and rhythms.

Kullervo's story is dark and violent; while the sections Sibelius composed do not form a cohesive narrative, they do convey the hero's tragedy. Raised by his family's enemies, he supposes himself an orphan but, blessed with magical powers, foils their attempts on his life and escapes. Wandering alone, he discovers his parents and siblings, though one sister is missing. Sent on a sleigh-ride, he overtakes three maidens, who refuse his invitation to join him; however, he abducts and seduces the third, only to learn that she is his lost sister. In despair, she kills herself; Kullervo goes into battle yet survives, but returning home finds his family dead and falls upon his sword.

This turbulent, brooding tale seems eminently suited to Sibelius' somber, often bombastic style, beginning with the long orchestral introduction whose ominous low instruments presage what's to come. Supporting the poem's reiterations with obsessively repeated motives and phrases, the music illustrates and underlines the story's events and emotions: vengeful defiance, boisterous joy and triumph, desperate lamentation. The orchestration is rich and colorful, swooping up and down from whispers to crashes. The performance is admirable; the vocal parts demand an almost constantly high level of dynamics, and just learning the Finnish text is an extraordinary achievement. --Edith Eisler

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great nationalistic choral pieces September 27, 2003
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
These cantatas from Sibelius are highly enjoyable, and full of lush national flavour. Snofrid is the highlight. great performances and recording.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ASO plays at their peak January 18, 2008
Format:Audio CD
Full disclaimer: I am one of the 100 male voices on this recording. (The choral portions, while a gratifying accomplishment, only make up about 25% of the work.)

Ignoring my bias for my own choir, I must praise the ASO for their brilliant playing on this album. The transparency and immediacy of their performance showcases how far Spano has brought the orchestra since the start of his tenure.

One possible reason for this: Robert Spano's mother is Finnish. He told us in rehearsal that he doesn't speak the language beyond a few phrases but the sound and character of it are installed deep within in his earliest memories. Clearly this tonal memory translated beyond his dead-on pronunciation corrections to the chorus and went all the way to the core sound of the entire piece. We never forget our mother tongue.

Kullervo isn't a work for everyone (incest-driven double-suicides, anyone?), but if you are a Sibelius fan I think you will enjoy Spano's passion, our famous Atlanta choral precision and Telarc's superb recording quality.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful music August 22, 2010
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
It bought this CD some years ago and now I bought an additional copy in case of damage. This is one of my favorite CDs, containing some of Sibelius' lesser known works like Oma Maa, Maan virsi, Väinön virsi and Snöfrid. I enjoy Järvi's excellent reading of this music. Great singing and excellent sound. It's a must for Sibelians and a great surprise, I think, for anyone loving this composer. Highly recommended!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A delicate and ethereal production March 21, 2013
By Eric F.
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I discovered that there was a production of Sibelius' FINLANDIA with male chorus when I heard a broadcast on Seattle radio years ago (KING-FM 98.1) .

I was so pleased with my purchase decision, but I did not count on the satisfaction that I would gain from the other choral works which included female and mixed vocal works. The range of moods and the suggested mental images were startling, in my opinion.

I have purchased additional copies of this CD for each of two friends.

The most recent recipient wrote me to say: "...I am enjoying this music immensely..."

I have had the same emotion.
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7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Did not meet my expectations! April 10, 2009
Format:Audio CD
As a true fan of Sibelius' music for some ten years now, "Kullervo" counts as one of my favourite pieces, containing so many haunting themes and beautifully capturing the essence of Finnish folklore, mystique and tragedy. Already owning the pioneering version with Berglund from the 70s as well as Panulas Naxos-recording, I felt I wanted to hear a new, fresh rendition of the work. My choice was between this Telarc release and the BIS recording with Osmo Vänski and the Lahti Symphony Orchestra. Telarc hadn't disappointed me before, usually delivering powerful and lively performances with top-notch American orchestras, so I went for the Telarc recording with Robert Spano.

What a mistake!

I hate to say it, but after several listenings I'm still deeply disappointed by this rendition. Spano does some odd choices of tempo and dynamics that I don't think does the music any good. There is something very 'anonymous' about the performance, and I never get emotionally involved with the piece, it sort of coasts along in neutral throughout. Some of the most haunting melodies never seem to reach me. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra with its Chorus (who reportedly put in a lot of effort studying Finnish before the recording to make the vocal parts come out right) doesn't seem to get things together here. Some passages simply sound awkward, like the woodwinds and the strings, as if the interplay wasn't there at all. The brass, which is commonly one of the standouts of the ASO, doesn't impress me here either. Also, and this could be a recording issue, I think the sound of the ASO is pretty thin. Both the low-budget Panula version and the Berglund one extract more timbre and colours from the orchestra. Strange, considering Telarc takes such pride in working hard with their sound engineering.
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